Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oops, I forgot to title it

Wowee. LOTS of ground to cover today!

First of all. If you are a follower of Urban Fantasy Land (and if you aren't, why the hell not, because those girls are awesome; they love the genre, and they're fun and well-informed, and they're doing Reader's Choice Awards at the moment and you could win stuff) you already have some inkling of this, as they broke the news a couple of days ago. If you are a member of my Yahoo newsgroup you already know this, as I sent out a message yesterday (see? There are some benefits to belonging to the group!)

I can't tell you everything. I honestly don't know everything. What I do know is that DEMON INSIDE and any future books in the Megan Chase series will be distributed through Pocket Books (S&S) as part of a new arrangement with Juno Books.

So. DEMON INSIDE is up on Amazon! And I have my very own Author Page on the new Simon & Schuster website, which is here.

Both pages give the new release date as JULY 29, 2009. Mark your calendars! Place your pre-orders now! Riot and dance in the streets (you know you want to)!

But seriously. Here's what this hopefully means for you. It hopefully means that DI will have a much "harder" release date; there will be more copies on the shelves, on the release date and after. It will likely be easier to get and find. (And I certainly hope you think that's a good thing.)

What it means for me? I honestly don't know yet. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

But wait! There's more!

Again, if you're a member of the Yahoo group you know this already, but yesterday I got the official word that I will be a Guest at Dragon*Con, September 4-7, Atlanta GA. (It is very weird to see my name on that list, especially right above Susan Kearney's, as she is a USA Today bestseller and I am just...well, me.) So, I will be signing books, participating in panel discussions, and generally jibber jabbering away at Dragon*Con! I am totally excited; D*C is awesome. Check out the rest of the site and see:

Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US.

...and I'm going to be part of it! Holy crap!! I'm already thinking of fun promo activities and stuff; a scavenger hunt, perhaps? Miss Caitlin Kittredge and I have some Nefarious Plans in the works as well...muahahahaha!

Now, this last bit of news hasn't been announced to the Yahoo loop, as I thought two big announcements were quite enough for one day. BUT, this is really, very exciting.

My Ellora's Cave novel Demon's Triad, co-written with the excellent Anna J. Evans, will be a print book, available for signing at the Romantic Times convention in April!!

Those of you who were here when the book had its ebook release last year will recall, this is our supersuperdirty X-rated book; the one almost too dark and wild for Ellora's Cave. I repeat that here not just because I'm kind of proud of that in a sick sort of way, but to warn you. The blurb says "This book is not for the faint of heart" and that is NOT a warning to take lightly. At least one reviewer was apparently not shown the blurb, which also explains that the book contains female/female sexual activity, male/male sexual activity, and non-gratuitous scenes of rape and incest, and gave the book a terrible review for it; who can blame her, really? If you're expecting a sweet romance, well, you will get that; it *is* a romance and one Anna and I were very proud of. But it is also a dark, violent, and graphic book, so if you're not interested in that or if it's simply not what you expected--especially considering most of my EC work leans toward snarky and humorous--you will want to give this one a wide berth, okay?

But I'm extremely excited and proud that it will see print, and I am extremely happy to say that Anna J. Evans, my darling co-writer, will also be at Romantic Times, so this is your chance to have the book signed by BOTH of us.

So. That was the fun stuff. Now we have a couple of serious things to talk about.

This week marks one year since the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal broke, on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website. You guys know I love the Bitches; they're clever, they're funny, and they are always interesting, in addition to being--I think--two really lovely, kind, and caring people. I think it can be easy, when dealing with review sites, to tar them all with some sort of "Snarky reviews=Mean Girls" brush, and I think that's wrong. If you read the Bitches' site regularly, if you pay attention to the discussions there, you can see the deep respect that shines through even the snarkiest comment (though I don't think their reviews are particularly snarky anyway, personally); respect for themselves, respect for readers, and especially respect for writers. (The fact that they are both writers themselves may contibute to this; they have their own book coming out in April, a non-fiction book about romance novels, and I imagine it will be a must-have for anyone who likes or loathes romance.)

Anyway. A year ago one of the Bitches loaned a friend a few Cassie Edwards novels. The friend did not enjoy the novels, but more to the point, the friend noticed some distinct differences in the authorial voice at certain points in the text. The friend was, I believe, ill at the time or recuperating from a broken bone, and so, having time on her hands, she decided to Google a few of the oddest passages.

And discovered that they were stolen.

They were not Cassie Edwards' original work. They were entire passages lifted verbatim from research articles; from old novels (one of which was a Pulitzer Prize winner); from magazine articles and websites.

In short, Cassie Edwards was a plagiarist, and the Bitches posted the evidence of her CRIME, of her BREACH OF MORALS AND ETHICS AND HONOR, on their website.

And all hell broke loose. (The post I linked to above is tagged "Cassie Edwards"; clock the tag to view the whole saga. Astounding. I was especially interested to see a statement, purportedly from Edwards, which claimed that "...all romance authors who use research for historicals have to use reference books to do this." Um...yeah, I used a lot of reference books and materials in writing Black Dragon, my Cerridwen Press medieval. But funnily enough, I didn't realize I was supposed to lift entire passages verbatim; I actually went through the trouble of incorporating my research in (what I hope was) a smooth manner, and, you know, writing it myself in my own words, rather than simply copy-and-pasting it into dialogue and figuring my readers wouldn't know the difference. Silly me. I guess I was absent from Writer School the day they told me that, contrary to what I'd been taught my whole life, that was okay).

But this is the thing. This really isn't about Cassie Edwards. It's not. I've never read one of the woman's books; I don't know her or anything about her.

What I do know, and what this is about, is that plagiarism is wrong. It is a moral and ethical absolute: PLAGIARISM IS WRONG. YOU DO NOT STEAL THE WORK OF OTHERS AND TAKE CREDIT FOR IT.

And here's what I don't understand. The Bitches broke this story. They alerted the world that this egregious wrong was taking place. In doing so they drew attention to the actual writers of the stolen work, people whose words were earning money for Ms. Edwards, while they struggled. People who'd put years of effort into the work she so carelessly, irresponsibly, and coldly stole from them for her own gain.

In alerting us they made publishers and readers more aware of plagiarism; what it is, and what the consequences are. Not just to the thief, but to all of us. When our words--our self-expression, the contents of our minds and hearts, the basis of our very selves, the tools of our souls--are stolen, it is a vicious and terrible crime. It is the raping of the mind. It tells us, on the most basic level possible, that we are nothing but grist for the plagiarist's mill, nothing but a series of sentences for the plagiarist to steal.

Who among us has never had this happen? There's a reason why "copycat" is such a vivid playground epithet; the copycat is not original. The copycat is stealing your ideas and pretending they're his or her own. Who among us has never had anyone copy us? Has never had a co-worker take credit for one of our ideas? Or a boss? Has never told a joke or come up with a witty comeback, and heard someone else use it later, pretending it's their own? Who has not felt that impotent rage when it happens? The feeling that nothing is sacred, not your thoughts or words or self?

Plagiarism is disgusting. It is foul. It is wrong. It is a behavior that should not be tolerated, by anyone, for any purpose.

And yet...the Bitches are being threatened for it. As though they've done something wrong.

When someone breaks into your home and steals from you, and you catch them in the act, do you deserve to be blamed for their subsequent imprisonment? How about if you catch someone stealing from your neighbor's home; are you then to blame? What if you witness a murder or rape? Or any crime? Are you obligated to keep silent? Or are you obligated to tell, because the basis of our society is respect for ourselves, other people, and the law, and every incidence of turning a blind eye, of excusing such crimes, of pretending it doesn't matter, is in and of itself a crime, a show of incredible disrespect which takes us one step further away from civilization and toward an unfeeling, inhuman anarchy?

There are people actually sending threatening notes to the Smart Bitches--especially regarding their appearance at the Romantic Times convention--for doing what was and is RIGHT; for standing up for the abused, the stolen from, the ignored and the ill-treated. For standing up for the basic human right of all of us to own our own words, thoughts and feelings, and not have them ripped from us by someone else looking to benefit financially from the sweat of our brows and the fruit of our souls.

This is disgusting. It is wrong. It lessens the humanity and fairness and integrity of our society as a whole, and of the community of readers and writers.

Thank you, Smart Bitches, for standing up for writers; for treating what we do as something individual and valuable, and for recognizing our right to our own intellectual property.

I had more but I think that's long enough for one day, huh?


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like lots of good things are happening for you. I'll go check out your simon and schuster page.

kirsten saell said...

That is so freaking cool, D!!! You and Juno both rock!


Demon Hunter said...

Congratulations, December!!! Yay! I'm so happy for you!! :-)

About the Smart Bitches, whom I love by the way, it sucks that people are blaming them.

I read Cassie Edwards when I was 12...ahem, when I was supposed to still be reading Francine I did like what I thought was her work. Wow, I remember reading about all this last year. It sucks, especially since it's been going on for soooo long. Whatever happened with her anyway? She's like 72, so...was she sued? Anything?

Anyway, folks should not be mad at the Smart Bitches, only the lying author who stole from fellow writers. >:-/

I have trying to get to Dragon Con for years. I was supposed to go last year and the year before. A friend of mine (another writer) lives there and I was supposed to attend with her. I'll have to make it this year. :-)

BernardL said...

Good news, D! If the people upset with the Cassie Edwards' mess want to go after others besides the author, why not send threatening letters to the agent and editors who worked with her. If a layman could spot the plagiarism, it's weird the publishing people didn't notice the same change in voice.

Devon Ellington said...

Congrats, December, on all these great things happening for you.

I'll have to read the material regarding the Cassie Edwards thing. I somehow missed it all in the chaos.

Anonymous said...

Plagiarism is a serious matter and it's good to see an established author as well as the dedicated bloggers over at SBTB examining the issue.

BTW--is anyone having a hard time accessing Absolute Write forums today? The site seems to be down. I hope it's just a tech glitch, not a repeat of what happened to it in 2006.

December/Stacia said...

Thanks Charles! :-) Let's hope everything doesn't crash down on me. I got orphaned at DR on Thursday, so...

Thanks Kirsten! :-)

Thanks Tyhitia! Lol, Francine Pascal. Ah, what fun.

Edwards lost her Signet contracts, I believe, and if I'm not mistaken she was removed from the RWA's Honor Roll. Other than that, nothing, which I find incredibly disheartening. It upsets me that the people who were stolen from just kind of laughed it off with a "It's only romance" kind of attitude. I mean, they were really cool guys--the black-footed ferret guys--and I'm sure they had reasons for letting it go; I don't know how much money would have been required for a lawsuit or what. But I do wish someone had gone after her seriously. Stealing is stealing, whether it's "just a research paper" or "just a romance novel", and by suing they could have made her an example, you know? Made the point that no, this *is* a bad thing to do.

Oh, I hope to see you there! :-)

Thanks Bernard! Eh, I don't know. Honestly I think her writing in general was so terrible, and she'd been around for so long as was successful enough, that her work wasn't given any real serious editing at that point. And by then those "voice changes" had become part of her own authorial voice; when she started stealing there was no internet and things like that were much harder to catch, you know?

Thanks Devon! :-) Yes, it's very interesting. Especially upsetting is that several other authors stood up for Edwards: Deb Smith, Jennifer Crusie...very upsetting.

Lol, Anonymous, I don't know if I could be called an "established author" but there certainly were and are some who were willing to come forward and make a statement about this, which was great.

AW is apparently having server issues. Hopefully they'll be resolved soon.

Robyn said...

Congrats, D. I'm glad I can say I knew you when.

In one way, all romances have certain things in common; sub-genres do, too. I'd love to see a vamp hero who was an accountant or computer nerd instead of a dark warrior, for instance. But it kills me that Edwards actually defended what is criminal! Even if it wasn't, it still does her no favors. It just paints her as the worst kind of lazy writer, who assumes that her audience wouldn't know the difference.

December/Stacia said...

Thanks Robyn, lol.

And THAT is what gets the most about it. Don't they realize, this woman cheated them? That with her actions she told them that they mattered so little to her that she couldn't even be bothered to reword the facts she was using? Every time she copied from somewhere else, she was telling her readers that they weren't and aren't worth her time and effort.

Why in the world would you defend someone who treats you with such contempt?

laughingwolf said...

rats... i KNOW i posted in here :(

grats, i'll be getting di asap :D